The father of Aws Al Jayab, the Sacramento man accused of lying to federal agents about connections to an organization the U.S. considers a terrorist group, broke his silence for the first time since his son’s arrest.
Mohammad Al Jayab spoke exclusively to FOX 40 about his son, and life for the Al Jayab family since the federal allegations became public.
"We're a peaceful family,” said Al Jayab, translated from Arabic. He believes the rest of his family has been slammed in the court of public opinion.
"People who used to come say hello to you, they look at us in a different way now,” Al Jayab said.
Though FBI officials have said his son did not posed a threat to Americans, and has yet to be convicted, Al Jayab says the family name has been unfairly associated with terrorism.
"When I hear this, it feels like a dagger in my heart," he said.
Al Jayab says he believes his son is innocent, and says the first and only time he heard anything about his son’s alleged involvement with Ansar Al-Islam was from federal agents.
"All I can say is they told me he went to Syria. I don't know, originally I thought he was just going to Turkey," Al Jayab said.
His family's lives are forever changed -hoping one day his daughter might become a doctor, now the family is delaying college for her until they feel it’s safe.
"We love peace. We're not terrorists. If you ask our neighbors they'll tell you I'm a peaceful man. We love people,” Al Jayab said.
He says he moved his family to the U.S. to provide his children opportunity for a better life. Despite all that's happened, he says he still believes that dream is possible.
Aws Al-Jayab is due back in federal court next month in Chicago. His father says he has faith that the American justice system will treat his son fairly.